19 October 2020

Plum, Honey and Ginger Mince Pies (Waitrose) By @Cinabar

Plum, Honey and Ginger Mince Pies (Waitrose)

I know it is is early, and I am sorry but I’m not sorry, here is my first Christmas mince pies review of they year. There has been little to enjoy about the year so far, so browsing the new Christmas items in Waitrose is actually a plus, as is buying some new mince pies ones to eat while watching the first episode of Strictly this year.

Plum, Honey and Ginger Mince Pies (Waitrose)

These are new and are a special edition Plum, Honey and Ginger Mince Pies. There are four in the pack and the packaging design shows them wrapped in Christmas ribbon, making them look cheery at least. The pies themselves have a nice thick pastry but are big enough to contain plenty of filling too. The pastry was soft and buttery which was really nice. The filling had a lovely fruity sweet twist on a regular mince pie with a nice gentle warmth from the ginger and I could even spot the sweetness from the honey. They tasted of Christmas and with the added glitter of the first episode of Strictly were a perfect treat for the evening. These might be the first mince pies of the year but they have set the standard high, I look forward to finding others to compete though.

Plum, Honey and Ginger Mince Pies (Waitrose)

18 October 2020

Co-op Brownies and Cadbury Darkmilk Buttons (@NLi10)

As a treat a friend dropped off these brownies and a bag of Darkmilk chocolate buttons - and suggested that we combined them!

Co-op bakery in the UK is good, they make a nice balance between the actual bakers shops (remember those) and the supermarket mass baked things.

Take Brownies and place a couple of buttons on each one.  Ideally you'd put 4 on each but I'm greedy and ate most of the buttons the night before.

Nuke the brownie in the microwave for about 10 sec - I did 20 as I put two in, and you can just see here the resultant melting that happens after you let it settle for a minute or so.

Another minute later and you can spread the button choc out with your fork - the science at work here is very tasty but requires a little patience.  At this point you could add the ice-cream if it wasn't all gone.

Hooray - good for trick-or-treaters that aren't going door to door this year and an important lesson about putting sugar based things in the microwave. less is more!


17 October 2020

Älska Strawberry Lime Cider (Aldi @alskacider) By @SpectreUK

Älska Strawberry Lime Cider (Aldi)

Here is a cider that hid itself on a shelf in my beer fridge all of the summer. I'm not much of a cider drinker. I don't mind the odd bottle here and there, and flavoured ciders usually interest me more than regular brands. This Älska Strawberry Lime Cider was made by the Swedish Cider Company. At 4% volume it is a pear cider blended with natural fruit flavourings of strawberries and lime. That sounds like a pretty good flavour combination. I'm sure I've had something similar recently, but I just can't put my finger on it.

Apparently Älska means 'love' in Swedish, so hopefully that's the way I'll feel about this cider. On opening the bottle there was a cheerful fizz that made me smile after a long week at work. Things are very busy indeed and I seem to have a lot of projects on in various stages, which makes time fly by. So I need something refreshing this evening to wash away the work blues on a Friday night. The strong natural smell of strawberries made me think back to warm summer nights, and there was a touch of lime at the back of the aroma to add an extra zing.

This bright almost fluorescent pink cider showed just how strong the strawberries were in the ingredients. On taste the strawberries were ever present from beginning to end. There was a light touch of alcoholic pear cider just underneath that sheer weight of strawberries, and just a dot or two of lime to give the flavour a sour edge as the predominantly strawberry cider travelled into the aftertaste. This is one of those alcoholic drinks I always feel could be mistaken for a alcopop. I can't help wondering what it could taste like frozen in a lolly. Having said that it tastes great. You do need to like strawberries though. And, hey, I'm an adult (sort of) so I can drink an alcoholic pop drink that predominantly tastes of strawberries. So there…!

16 October 2020

Maltesers Mint Biscuits (Asda) By @Cinabar

Maltesers Mint Biscuits

When the new Maltesers Mint Buttons were released earlier in the year, pre-Covid lockdowns if anyone can remember those days, I discovered a new love of mint and malt. Frankly the flavours shouldn’t go together but they hit a magical formula that just worked. Clearly it has been a successful combination because they have extended the flavour into these new Maltesers Mint Biscuits. I was looking forward to trying them.
Maltesers Mint Biscuits

The biscuits are shaped like three flattened circles and look nice in the packet, they are spaced out in pastic though and there isn’t that many in there. I gave one a try and found the biscuit to have a decent amount of chocolate and nice solid biscuit texture that snapped when broken. The mint flavour is the most dominant taste and in this format the malt was a bit more hidden, with the biscuit taking some of the room. The malt was still present it was just not as strong as could be. As a fan of mint I still enjoyed these biscuits with my afternoon coffee but I would have liked a shade more malt in the taste.

Maltesers Mint Biscuits

15 October 2020

Rustlers BBQ Rib - No Mc, but essentially the same (@NLi10)

Continuing the series of things to eat for lunch in lockdown we have the Rustlers imitation McRib

I went through a phase of these as a child, before the good chicken things were released, but it wears thin fast.

Same deal as before - nuke the meat, toast the bun, squirt the sauce.

cold rib

Hot and toasty - lovely sauce!

Doesn't look amazing, but it's tasty enough.  The chicken one is nice enough that I had it again, but this is not as exciting.  I'd rather have the other lunch option that I've got at the moment (but am yet to write up).

So - maybe the secret to this one is in the magical rib sauce.

14 October 2020

Brave Roasted Chickpeas – Sweet Chilli flavour (Amazon) By @SpectreUK

Brave Roasted Chickpeas – Sweet Chilli flavour

I'm always on the lookout for alternative snacks to crisps and nuts. If I wasn't on a constant diet I'd eat crisp packets by the dozen, but I try to stick to one packet a day with my lunch or an alternative equivalent. I can't eat nuts due to dietary reasons, but flavoured roasted chickpeas can be quite a treat and fill that snacking gap I miss terribly. I do really miss chilli favoured nuts, but sadly there doesn't seem to be a replacement for my favourite coated salted peanuts!

I tried Brave Roasted Peas Paprika & Chilli before and rather enjoyed them, which was a relief due to the fact that when we bought them from Amazon they arrived in a box of twelve. These new Sweet Chilli flavoured Brave roasted chickpeas sound right up my street. Since I ran out of the previous box of twelve Brave flavoured peas, I couldn't help but dive straight into the box. There was a sweet chilli smell with a touch of paprika on opening the first packet. That spicy smell carried through to the taste. There was a sweet chilli and paprika flavour to these deep red chickpeas, with quite a strong aftertaste of parsley. These Brave Roasted Chickpeas have a medium to light chilli heat. They made my nose run just a little whilst eating them. I noticed that I liked the seasoning so much that I found myself dunking the end of my sandwich into the dustings left on my plate towards the end of my meal. I'm very glad I have another eleven packets!

Brave Roasted Chickpeas – Sweet Chilli flavour

13 October 2020

Muller Light – Bakery Inspired Cinnamon Bun Yoghurt (Asda) By @Cinabar

Muller Light – Bakery Inspired Cinnamon Bun Yoghurt

Working from home has increased my consumption of yoghurt. Mainly because being at home I’m next to my fridge rather than risking the shared fridge in the office, where things disappear, admittedly mainly milk. I do buy a lot of the Muller Light yoghurts anyway but discovering the Bakery Inspired range excited me, there is this Cinnamon Bun flavour. I love cinnamon, it is my favourite spice and, as you probably guessed, Cinnamon Bun is my favourite pastry. There is also a lemon drizzle yoghurt in the pack, which sounds nice too, but has no cinnamon! So I think you can guess we started first.

Muller Light – Bakery Inspired Cinnamon Bun Yoghurt

This yoghurt is a pale cream in colour and has a decent creamy thickness. The flavour is divine! The yoghurt is sweet, there is cinnamon and the flavour of pastry, it was so good. The flavour is creamy too and it tastes bad for you. However it is 0% fat and has no added sugar so is a proper guilt free cinnamon treat. I realise this is a winter flavour but honestly cinnamon isn’t just for Christmas. The spice is warming and works so well with a little sweetness, I was scraping the yoghurt pot out by the end.

Muller Light – Bakery Inspired Cinnamon Bun Yoghurt

12 October 2020

The British Snack Co Sweet and Salty Popcorn (@britishsnackco) #gifted By @Cinabar

The British Snack Co Sweet and Salty Popcorn

We were very kindly sent a bag of this Sweet and Salty Popcorn from The British Snack Co, but they are available from Amazon if you want to try them yourselves. I cracked open this packet for our film night and as it is Halloween month we were watching the classic The Lost Boys. The original cool vampire movie!

I may have ripped the bag to open it and turn it into a make shift sharing bowl, but it had rather smart and mad decorations. I was loving the funky cat, British shirt and the postbox, it was very bright and cool and very British. I think in the current Brexit / Covid climate it is good to support British firms. Inside the bag there was plenty of popcorn and no unpopped kernels which was a bonus.

The popcorn was fluffy but with a light crunch, so it had a really good texture. There was a decent amount of salt and sugar, and the mix worked well. It makes it more interesting to eat as each bite had a slightly different balance of flavours. I enjoyed the popcorn and I enjoyed the movie too, I’m pleased to say The Lost Boys is still a fantastic film if you are looking forward to what to watch this Halloween.

The British Snack Co Sweet and Salty Popcorn

11 October 2020

Capsicana Latin Flavour - Mexican Chilli & Honey Fajita Kit - veggied (@NLi10)

We like meal kits, and luxury meal kits are basically a take-away that you cook yourself.  I'm happy to spend a little bit more to get a luxury experience.

I'm not sure where we got this from, probably Co-Op as it's got the great taste logo.

Cook stuff, add sachets, heat the pancakes and done!

This has a lot of spicy goodness, and is vegetarian (contains Honey, which the bees can't be asked to give up voluntarily so not vegan).

The contents of the box are really unimpressive, it's just brown goo and tortilla!  They folded the tortilla to make the box half the size - this is smart and I approve.

One big bowl of chopped veggies - and some tomatoes for the salsa

You cook the veggies a bit, add the big sachet, then let them marinade.  Meanwhile you chop the tomato and mix it with the spicy, spicy salsa.

We added squeezey guacamole.

And here is the result!

See how thick those tortilla are!  These are luxury indeed and so much more satisfying than the generic meal-kit.

The sauce wasn't as exciting as I'd hoped, but was really nice and something I plan to have again.  The salsa was a little too spicy for my partner which meant that after I'd finished my two wraps I got to eat the rest with a spoon which was amazing.  A bit tangy, but worth it.  No wonder I can't taste some other more delicate things anymore.

Like usual, I think i'd try more in this range before bouncing back to the original.  And maybe be a little more prepared - onion for the insides and tomato puree for the salsa would have made this even more special.

Staying in is the new going out so maybe we'll get chance to try these sooner than expected!


10 October 2020

Shropshire Born & Bred Beer (Co-op @WoodsBrewCrew) By @SpectreUK

Shropshire Born & Bred Beer

We all have to come from somewhere. This Shropshire Born & Bred pale ale was brewed in Wistanstow by the Wood Brewery. It's a session ale at 3.8% volume, meaning it's low alcohol by volume so it used to be drunk during break times at work when the world was a little more fun. The label sports a floral aroma and tropical fruity hoppy flavour. Citra and Celeia hops were brewed with Maris Otter and Crystal Malts to create this light amber coloured beer. I must admit on reading the label I was salivating by the end of it. After my second week slowly settling in at work, I could do with a brew that's not too high in ABV, but high enough to tickle my fancy before Gaming night tonight.

On opening the bottle I was first struck by the pre-described floral smell. There was a citrus fruitiness at the back of the aroma, with a touch of pale malt. This deep straw coloured pale ale tastes of pure sweet pale malts to start with, then the floral and citrus fruitiness from the crisp bitter hops merged perfectly with each other. That refreshing lip smacking bite from the hops travels into the aftertaste. This Shropshire Born & Bred was born and bred just down the road from where we live, and I was born not far away from here myself.

I was born and bred just within the borders of the Black Country not too far away from Birmingham. An area born from coal, and soot, and steam during the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. An era I never fail to find fascinating. The best places to see more about it around here are The Black Country Museum in Dudley, which is deep in the heart of the Black Country, and the Severn Valley Railway in Bridgnorth, and also Ironbridge and the Victorian Village in Telford, of which are in Shropshire. This beer joins both areas together perfectly. And here I am in the middle - a fairly oldish and overly posh Black Country man enjoying his session pale ale on a Friday night with a packet of pork scratchings on the side. Cheers! ;-)

9 October 2020

Thorntons Spooky Caramel Shortcake Bites (Co-Op) By @Cinabar

Thorntons Spooky Caramel Shortcake Bites

It has been a strange year, and I’m not completely sure how Halloween is going to play out. Our local neighbourhood is running a pumpkin carving competition with the idea that people go on Halloween walks and then vote online for favourites, it is being organised via Facebook similar to the scarecrow competition they organised in the Spring. Have you seen the film Hot Fuzz, we’ve not lived here long but that is how it feels, all these events are organised “for the greater good”. :-D

So I have bought Halloween treats but the chances are that due to Covid restrictions in our area I won’t be able to share any. These particular Thorntons Spooky Caramel Shortcake Bites are not wrapped either making it very difficult to give them out to Trick or Treaters at the best of times. Lucky for me I had to open them anyway for the blog and we chose to snack on them while watching the last episode of Stranger Things season 3, which needed something sweet to help compensate for the emotional rollercoaster!

Thorntons Spooky Caramel Shortcake Bites

Once opened I have to say I was impressed with the decoration on the Thorntons Spooky Caramel Shortcake Bites, they are metallic gold on top and have all sorts of smart halloween shapes on them. They look very pretty. There aren’t that many bites in the pack though and they are quite small and well spaced out. I gave one a try and was rather impressed. I always have it in my head that Caramel Shortcake is a heavy stodgy item but these were buttery and light, there was plenty of golden caramel, and a nice touch of milk chocolate. They were in fact too easy to eat and the packet didn’t last long at all, I really enjoyed the the sweet tones and the lighter than expected base, pure yum. They got me through that last episode of Stranger Things which was totes emotional, even if I did have to still watch the trailer for season 4 just make sure things were going in a better direction.

Thorntons Spooky Caramel Shortcake Bites

8 October 2020

Seasonal Jaffa Cakes - spooky, festive and pandemic?! (@NLi10)

 Jaffa Cakes are magical. They are a great way to bond with new people and turn any meeting into a race to eat as many as possible without looking greedy.  New flavours are always great as you HAVE to try them.

This year has been an odd one so I think they have just dumped everything in store at once so here’s what we picked up.


5 zesty orange cake bars? Yes please!

And with a day of the dead theme they evoke Pixar movie comparisons more than scary things. I approve!

They are quite little

Purple is a lot of fun, but these taste the same as normal. Great style, and the same great flavour. Just too small. Not worth chasing down, but enjoyable alternative.


After non-scary Halloween we get non denominational Christmas. I approve again. This should upset no one while being pretty cool. I am excited to try these.

With only 10 in the pack these will go faster than the old dozens will.  (Ok - bad picture - imagine a Jaffa cake).

Looks like a slightly redder jelly bit. And to me it tasted almost identical. The younger people in the office got quite excited by the cranberry flavour they could taste though, so I think my old jaded tastebuds just needed to eat more.

Nice, not overpriced compared to normal cakes (except for these aren’t multipacks)


Hint at future review here too!

So - whether this is just a good choice of what to put on special, or a cunning way of saying that three cakes is a portion, but here are individually wrapped Jaffa cakes ready for an office full of lab workers to share without risk of cross infection.

In my head these are overpriced, because snack packs usually are, but 18 cakes for £1.29 when it’s usually just under a pound for 10 seems fine to me.  I should have got these too!

We were very careful to tip the cakes out of the packets into peoples hands and not to fondle all the cakes as we handed them to people to try. Here you are sanitary and keep everything fresh too. Great plan.

Not very exciting offerings this year, but with solid flavours and no jacked-up prices I can see myself dipping back into these (especially if the post spooky ones end up in the discount section as usual!)

7 October 2020

Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Grapefruit Bier [Beer] (@SchofferhoferUS) By @SpectreUK

Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Grapefruit Bier

I've no idea where this Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Grapefruit Bier came from. It's one of those beers that appears at the back of my cavernous beer fridge slowly making its way to the front to surprise me. And this does look like a very pleasant surprise indeed, as Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Grapefruit Bier is half wheat beer and half grapefruit drink.

I love grapefruit juice, so I'm hoping this 2.5% volume wheat beer is tart as hell to wake me up after a long weights workout this evening. Sometimes I have to go into work, as the tech guys are still setting up my work laptop with all the bits and bobs I need to do project planning stuff. Besides it's good to meet new people even if we're all wearing masks, staying away from each other, washing our hands a lot and wiping everything down like germaphobes.

I also love the name of this beer - Schofferhofer… it's just got a lovely ring to it. So on opening the can my nostrils were pleasantly assaulted by the zingy smell of grapefruit. The grapefruit aroma was so strong that I could barely smell any wheat beer. Perhaps that's what they want… to lull you into a false sense of security before the wheat beer and hops pounces after a good dose of grapefruit?

On pouring this Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Grapefruit Bier I couldn't help but start to sing "Lilly the pink". This wheat beer and grapefruit drink is bright pinkish and orange in colour. It has a minor head to it as the pink grapefruit beats down any hope of wheat or hops battling through to froth the top of the glass.

On taste this Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Grapefruit Bier is actually bizarrely finely balanced. It shouldn't be by the smell and its almost florescent pinkish orange colour. There is of course a big tart hit from the grapefruit to start with in the flavour, but the wheat beer and a light bitterness from the hops mixes perfectly before the tartness from the grapefruit becomes overpowering. The grapefruit and wheat beer tumble over and over and over each other into the aftertaste. This is a lovely tasty flavoursome beer. Perfect on an evening, or for a liquid breakfast pick you up hair of the dog. Yum!

Schofferhofer Hefeweizen Grapefruit Bier

6 October 2020

Muller Light - Jam Roly Poly Flavour Yoghurt (Iceland) By @Cinabar

Muller Light - Jam Roly Poly Flavour Yoghurt

One of my lunch time treats is a Muller Light yoghurt, they seem to have enough new flavours to keep me entertained too. This week I have found these Muller Light - Jam Roly Poly Flavour Yoghurt, which sounded like a interesting new flavour, it is part of the new desserts range they have. I also have the Banoffee pie flavour too, but that is for another day.

These yoghurts sound far more interesting than they are, the pot contains a pink yoghurt that tastes mostly of fruit, like most yoghurts and is a nice pink colour. There is a flavour of sponge, and it is nice, but it wasn’t quite as wow as I had hoped.

The good thing about these yoghurts though is that they are lower in fat and calories so they are a nice sweet treat after a sandwich, just enough to quench that bit of sugar craving. They are always nice even if not necessarily as exciting as I’d hoped. Fingers crossed the Banoffee ones are good!

Muller Light - Jam Roly Poly Flavour Yoghurt

5 October 2020

Melting Hot Chocolate Bombe (Co-Op) By @Cinabar

Melting Hot Chocolate Bombe (Co-Op)

Today we had a large online order delivered where we stocked up on lots of things, and as we unpacked it soon became apparent I had forgotten to buy any bread. Christmas scented air freshener refills - check, something you actually need for lunch tomorrow - fail. I forgot to buy any ham too, weirdly the four tubes of toothpaste (they were buy one get one free) aren’t that appetising. This meant that I still had to make an emergency trip to my local Co-Op to buy essentials that I forgot, not sure where my brain has been recently.

In the Co-Op there were one or two new Christmas bits but as it is a small shop not that much that grabbed my attention, except for these Melting Hot Chocolate Bombes. I love hot chocolate, I’m happy to drink it all year but I totally understand that the varieties increase in the colder months. I snapped up a couple of these, my perfect way to cling on to the weekend vibe. Each one consists of a large ball of chocolate that is filled with marshmallows. You place one in your mug and pour on hot milk, it then dissolves and the marshmallows are also released floating to the top. It is fun to make and it is fun to watch it dissolve!

I supped my drink while watching Stranger Things, because frankly that programme needs something soothing and this did the job perfectly. It made a rich rink with plenty of marshmallows. The taste was good, lots of chocolate and a nice creaminess that was just what I needed. I may have messed up the online order but it seems every cloud has a silver lining.

Melting Hot Chocolate Bombe (Co-Op)

4 October 2020

McVities Digestives - Cherry Bakewell (@NLi10)

 Digestive biscuits are a British staple food, but with all products seasonal variations are a must.  So - here we have Cherry Bakewell Digestives.


Looks like a biscuit.

Snaps like a biscuit.

Tastes like a biscuit with some cherry flavour in it, and maybe a hint of almonds.  I'll keep eating them, but I'd rather have the normal ones (and that's rare for me!)

If you've always wanted biscuits that taste of cough sweets then these are for you!